CYPRESS trees in Port Fairy’s James Street will be chopped down by the end of the year due to safety concerns.
The trees between Campbell Street and Ocean Drive were first earmarked as a potential hazard in a street tree management plan completed in 2014, Moyne Shire’s director of physical services Trev Greenberger said.
But money for the trees’ removal has not been available until now, with $60,000 set aside in the 2017/18 draft budget.
”The condition of the James Street cypress trees was identified as a risk in a street tree management plan done in 2014 and we’ve put in applications to the budget each year, but this year it got up,” Mr Greenberger said.
The trees are believed to be more than 80 years old.
“They’re starting to deteriorate and will become a safety hazard if they’re not addressed in the future,” Mr Greenberger said.
“Some concerns have been raised by residents and people who use the street.
“It’s a safety matter from the point of view of potentially falling branches. There’s the potential for limbs to fall on cars.”
Mr Greenberger said the trees were also obstructing vision for drivers as it made it hard to see pedestrians preparing to cross James Street between Russell Clark Reserve and Southcombe Park.
As for what type of trees will replace the cypresses, Mr Greenberger said that would be a matter for the public, who will be able to make submissions to the council.
“Part of the project is replacement and the council has suggested that if (the cypress trees are) removed there would need to be more community consultation about what species we will replace them with,” he said.
The removal of the trees is not expected to start for another few months.
“The aim is to do it during spring, before the busy summer period when the caravan park is up and running,” Mr Greenberger said.
“It will be a significant job.
“There will be traffic control in that area.”
Mr Greenberger said the work will be done by contractors following a tender process and were expected to last a couple of weeks.
Port Fairy historian Marten Syme said there was nothing historically significant about the trees and noted they were becoming fragile.
He said that section of James Street originally featured sheoaks, which were replaced by cypress trees sometime between 1927 and World War II.
Mr Syme said it might be nice to see sheoaks returned to that section of James Street should the shire deem it appropriate.
“My preference would be to see native trees put back there,” he said.
“Sheoaks will be possible – they’ll never be too big and they might be easy to maintain, although they do create a bit of litter.